Virtual Worlds


Virtual Worlds is a computer-based simulated environment.
It can be populated by many other users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore around in the virtual world, to participate in its activities and communicate with others in the world. The Virtual World must continue to exist after an avatar exits the world. The virtual world should preserve the user-made changes.

Origin / History

Time line of Virtual World

1st Phase Late 1970s - Text-Based Virtual Worlds
1979 - MUDs and MUSHes - Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle complete the first
multi-user dungeon or multi-user domain—a multiplayer, real-time, virtual gaming world described primarily in text.

2nd Phase the 1980s - Graphical Interface and Commercial Application
1986/1989 - Habitat for Commodore64 (1986) and Fujitsu platform (1989)
Partly inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The first
commercial simulated multi-user environment using 2D
graphical representations and employing the term “avatar,”
borrowed from the Sanskrit term meaning the deliberate
appearance or manifestation of a deity in human form.

3rd Phase the 1990s - User-Created Content, 3D Graphics, Open-Ended Socialization, Integrated Audio
1994 - Web World - The first 2.5D (isometric) world where tens of thousands
could chat, build, and travel.
1995 - World Inc - One of the first publicly available 3D virtual user
1995 - Activeworlds - Based entirely on Snow Crash, popularized the project of
creating an actual Metaverse.
1996 - OnLive! Traveler - The first publicly available system that natively utilized
spatial voice chat and incorporated the movement of avatar lips via processing phonemes.

4th Phase 21st C - Major Expansion in Commercial Virtual World User Bases, Enhanced Content
2003 to present - Second Life - Popular open-ended commercial virtual environment with (1) in-world live editing, (2) ability to import externally created 3D objects into the virtual environment (3) advanced virtual economy
2009 to present - Avatar Reality l Blue Mars -A closed-source foray into much higher graphical realism using 3D graphics engine technology initially developed in the gaming industry

5th Phase 2007 and beyond - Open Decentralized Development
2007 - Solipsis - The first open-source decentralized virtual world system
2008 - Imprudence/ Kokua - One of the earliest alternative open-source viewers for an existing virtual world server
2009 - Open Simulator - First instance of multiple servers following the same virtual
world protocol (Second Life), later accompanied by a choice of multiple viewers that use this protocol.
2010 and beyond - Open Development of the Metaverse - Interoperability and interchangeability across servers and clients through standard virtual world protocols, formats, and digital credentials



Through the virtual worlds, people will be able to interact digitally more easily
* Entertainment
* Work
* Education
* Shopping
* Dating
Opportunity to have a second life
* New identity
* New physical appearance
* New personality
* Panic
* Agoraphobia


Escape / comfort zone
* Many users may want to escape or look for a comfort zone in entering these second lives
* People may lose sense of acceptance and freedom
* This may be similar to escaping from reality like drug or alcohol
Addiction → fail to deal with others / survive in real lives
* Addiction may create a challenge as far as dealing with others and in emotionally surviving within their real lives


Room for Growth

From the increased growth of virtual asset trade to greater use of virtual worlds as tools for socializing, over time virtual worlds will evolve well beyond their gaming roots. For better or for worse, virtual worlds will increasingly function as centers of commerce, trade, and business

Next Iteration

The new algorithm is definitely needed for the mass market. As soon as common infrastructure standards like HTML and HTTP virtual worlds will reach mass market

Potential Use

Social changes such as an aging population and distributed communities, and a need for greater co-operation and collaboration in business and government

Social Space

people can meet and socialize.

Experience Space

where we are happy to have social, emotional, learning and business experiences

Entertainment Space

Beyond TV or computer, compelling, “realistic” entertainment, both user and commercially generated

Agent Space

where we can leave software agents to conduct transactions for us, drawing on our own knowledge and experiences, access the web for raw information needs

Dream Space

Virtual experiences are as real as our dream

Case Studies

Case Study 1 - The Sims

This study examined how five adolescents learned about and played a digital game, The Sims 2.
Through participant observation, I examined participants’ aesthetic preferences, spatial practices, learning strategies, and storytelling within The Sims 2.
The context of this study was a 10-week summer day camp held in a working-class Arizona community.
Findings describe participants’ avatar and building designs, strategies for making quick spatial decisions, and tool choices. Set within a visual and material culture art education framework.

Case Study 2 - Virtual worlds and fitness

Second Life Fitness
It combine the opportunities of Second Life, the virtual world, with the advantages of reality.
If you ride the bike, you can fly in Second Life, and it has a total distance of 974 km.

Case Study 3 - Education

Risks and Uncertainties in Virtual Worlds: an educator’s perspective

Examined how educators perceive risks and uncertainties in Virtual Worlds
Virtual worlds bring tremendous advantages to cyberlearning
Concerns about Virtual Worlds
* Safety
* “The level of participants’ use of virtual world had a significant effect on their overall safety concerns about the virtual worlds”
* Privacy
* Cyberbullying
* “Privacy and trust are equally desirable in a learning environment”

Case Study 4 - "Avatars Help Asperger Syndrome Patients Learn to Play the Game of Life"

Virtual worlds enable hospitalized children to experience and act beyond the restrictions of their illness and help to relieve stress.
Helps hospitalized children (suffering from painful diseases or autism for example) to create a comfortable and safe environment which can expand their situation
Experience interactions (when the involvement of multiple cultures and players from around the world is factored in)

Collaborative Linking

Virtual Worlds and Mirror Worlds

Geographic Information System (GIS)
Although virtual worlds and mirror worlds have different characteristics, these two concepts can be combined. For example, Geographic Information System (GIS) can be combine with virtual worlds as it uses informational overlays over images.

Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality

Mixed reality is referred to as hybrid reality, which is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations. Physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Use of augmented reality takes place not only in the physical world or the virtual world, but is a mix of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality via immersive technology including AR tools. Mixed reality-use of augmented reality through virtual worlds is currently applied in arts and entertainment industries. It is expected to branch out to education, manufacturing, and business as well.

Virtual Worlds and Lifelogging

Virtual World and Lifelogging share similarities that identity and interaction between in-perosn and virtual representation of actual people play an important role. Through these two technologies, seamless interaction between people and virtual representations is now possible.


Dionisio, John, William III, and Richard Gilbert. "3D Virtual Worlds and the Metaverse: Current
Status and Future Possibilities." ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR), vol. 45, no. 3, 2013, pp. 1-

Farahmand, Fariborz, Aman Yadav, and Eugene H. Spafford. "Risks and Uncertainties in Virtual
Worlds: An Educators' Perspective." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 25.2 (2013):
49-67. ProQuest. Web. 6 Nov. 2017.

“From Virtuality to Reality: Second Life Fitness.” The Medical Futurist,

Messinger, Paul R., et al. “Virtual Worlds — Past, Present, and Future: New Directions in
Social Computing.” Decision Support Systems. 2009.

Stokrocki. “Youth-Created Avatars, Sites,and Role-Playing in the Virtual GameThe Sims 2.” Visual
Arts Research, vol. 39, no. 2, 2013, p. 28., doi:10.5406/visuartsrese.39.2.0028.

“The University of Texas at Dallas.” Avatars Help Asperger Syndrome Patients Learn to Play the
Game of Life, 7 Nov. 2017,

Wasko, Molly, et al. “Virtual Worlds : Internet Communicative Practices.” Internet, Society and
Culture : Communicative Practices Before and After

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License